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Letter: I Would Love a Museum In a More Contemporary Environment

Guildford Museum 02From Shane O’Hara

The museum is just one of those focal points that plays a part, albeit small, in bonding the community.

Each of my three kids have been there on school trips and each reported positively. As a result each now knows that little bit more about Guildford’s history.

As far as I can understand, no specific reason has been provided for serving notice on the society other than to say that: “We are looking at options”. Looking at options is vague and surely options can be looked at whilst the society is still in place.

Personally, I would love a museum in a more contemporary environment, where mood lighting and sound effects could be put in place to enhance the overall experience.

If there was an appetite to be innovative perhaps a move to somewhere that would allow a far richer experience for the public would be the way forward.

A larger venue, perhaps with a modern atmosphere, like the GLive building – where, rather than a 30-minute tour, people can spend a half a day – seeing not just artefacts relating to the history of Guildford, but also greater coverage on: famous events throughout Guildford’s history; famous patrons of Guildford; the expansion of the town; the Surrey Downs and a section on the amazing flora and fauna of the area.

It could include 3D landscapes, showing walking routes and points of interest as well as a a section on local annual events.

And how about a number of screens to show Guildford at its best, videos of: the County Show, the amazing races up the high street during the Tour of Britain cycle races, and so on. It should include a coffee shop too.

Guildford is an amazing town with a High Street that is hard to beat but it does lack a cultural/museum centre.

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3 Responses to Letter: I Would Love a Museum In a More Contemporary Environment

  1. Martin Elliott Reply

    July 20, 2015 at 5:59 pm

    Maybe if such ideas had been part of the museum/council failed lottery bids, or if input had come from the Surrey Archaeological Society (SAS), the bids would have been successful.

    We can of course only speculate on this and on why SAS were required to leave, as the public are not informed or consulted by the “open” and responsible local authority.

  2. Jules Cranwell Reply

    July 21, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    If we do get a new museum, can we add a section on the history and benefits of the green belt so that future generations can understand what we once had?

    If GBC continues with its discredited Local Plan, the green belt will be consigned to history too.

  3. Mary Alexander Reply

    July 21, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    The Guildford Museum, set up in 1898, was soon described as temporary until more suitable premises could be found. Ever since, there have been ideas for a new, purpose-built, museum, none of which has happened.

    In my 30+ years there the staff tried to bring in new ways of doing things, but there was never enough money to make much impact. Nevertheless, under Matthew Alexander we reached 45,000 visitors per year.

    Sadly, the current management has run the museum down while pinning all hopes on HLF [Heritage Lottery Fund] money, which will never now be given. The Surrey Archaeological Society was not asked to help, despite having money which could have been put into a partnership.

    My last major project before I left was to have 1,000 objects photographed for an inter-active screen in the museum. I chose objects of all sorts, expected and unexpected, and from every area of the county so that any Surrey visitor could find something from their home.

    The objects were beautiful, peculiar, intriguing, informative, amusing, very old, quite old and not-very-old. There was something for everyone, with short but clear labels. It was ready to run in 2012, but has never appeared. It was paid for by an internal GBC grant. I am told that a group of volunteers is being found to work on it, presumably re-inventing the wheel.

    Such a lack of drive has plagued the museum in the last few years, coupled with some councillors who seem unable to understand the value of culture. What hope is there?

    Dr Mary Alexander is a former collections officer at the Guildford Museum.

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